7 April 2009

At our baptism we were made part of God’s priestly people and we were called by the Son to serve his God and Father in the power of the Spirit.

Trusting in his mercy, we confess our sins to the Lord.

You are the Rock who saves us.
Lord, have mercy.

Your truth and your love are always with us.
Christ, have mercy.

Your hand will always be with us.
Lord, have mercy.

We live in very hard times. For some people not only are they experiencing an economic downturn, a financial depression, a credit squeeze, but they also feel that they are experiencing a “day of wrath, a day of mourning”, to borrow from dramatic apocalyptic language. Not only has the security gone out of their fiscal world, but there is a genuine fearfulness for the future and a personal loss of esteem and self-worth. This present credit crunch has left some teetering on the brink of the abyss.

He has sent me to bring good news to the poor& #8230;

We live in very hard times. We not only hear of wars and rumours of war, but with the aid of the TV and 24/7 News programmes, at times we feel as though we are part of war zones that we are witnessing on the screen. So many man-made disasters, acts of terrorism, so many people’s lives damaged or taken as a result of shortcuts driven by greed. Even Nature seems to be turning against us, earthquakes, floods, fires causing countless numbers of lives to be changed for the worse. So much hurt, so much disease, so much pain.

He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken& #8230;

We live in very hard times. I think this is true for so many of our young people. Youth is a time for freedom, for growth, for expansion of ideas and discovery. Yet, I feel that so many of our young people are un-free. Fear rules on our streets, even in our schools and colleges. Fear of violence, fear of being attacked, knives, weapons of all kinds. So much pressure is exerted to conform to their peers, the exploitation of the media and advertising. So many false expectations which can never be fulfilled doom many to a future life of frustration. So many are fettered by sex, drugs, drink and a faulty understanding of liberty.

He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken, to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison.

We live in very hard times. Or do we? Is that true? Are our problems worse than other generations had to suffer? Probably not. My faith in God’s providential love also tells me that he is with us and will not abandon us. However, perhaps we have lost trust, lost courage to turn to him and expect to be strengthened by him and comforted by him. Perhaps we have lost that wonderful rare but vital virtue for which the world is desperately crying out – HOPE. If ever the good news of hope was needed to be proclaimed it is now, today, here, wherever we find ourselves. So many people are thrashing around feeling as if there is no foundation to their lives and their world, nothing on which they can build, nothing to which they can securely cling.

The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news& #8230;

You can’t bring good news to others unless you have received it yourself. You can’t give to another what you do not possess yourself. You can’t explain to another what you do not understand yourself. At our baptism we were anointed so as to become part of God’s priestly, prophetic and royal people. It is important that we frequently bring this to mind. We are all called to be priests in the sense that we are sent to consecrate our world to God, the whole of creation; wherever we go, wherever we walk, whoever we meet, to whomsoever we speak, we are asked to consecrate all to the glory of the Father, through the Son in the power of the Spirit.

We are called to be prophets, to carry and communicate the Word who is life and who will restore life to our weary and flagging world. In the midst of darkness, this word will bring light. In the depth of depression this word will bring hope. In the self-imposed prison of sin, this word will bring freedom. Into a world of despair, cynicism and disbelief, this word will bring good news.

To comfort all those who mourn and to give them
for ashes garlands
for mourning robes, the oil of gladness,
for despondency, praise.

But first and foremost, we must accept that good news ourselves if we are to become prophets and priests and bring others to join our royal people, to become part of God’s people. If you go away from today’s celebration with nothing else, let it be the knowledge that every single one of you is called to be a prophet. You have all by your baptism and confirmation been anointed with the Spirit. You are called to be witnesses. “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the First-born from the dead, the Ruler of the kings of the earth (He) loves us and has washed away our sins with his blood, and made us a line of kings and priests to serve his God and Father& #8230;”

Never has our world been more ripe to hear the good news than today. Never has the need to offer the good news of hope been more urgent. Never has God’s people been more blessed and gifted than we are today. It is a daunting task, certainly. It is right to be apprehensive and reflective about it. However, it is also right to be confident and expectant. For we are the body of Christ, we are the People of God. Listen to what the responsorial psalm tells us. Listen to what the Father says to us through it:

“I have found my servants, and with my holy oil anointed them.
My hand will always be with them and my arm shall make them strong.
My truth and my love shall be with them; by my name shall their might be exalted.
They will say to me, “You are our father, our God, the rock who saves us.”

Over the next few days, as we journey into Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter, listen carefully. Hear the Word of God speak to you in a very intimate way. Be open to the Holy Spirit as he prompts your heart. Remember that these celebrations are a re-living, a re-presentation in a real but mystical way of our salvation, of our redemption. Let that good news sink into your hearts, minds and spirits. Be filled with the good news and begin to live that good news so that others may witness the power of Christ living in you by your very life. Over these next few days may the image of Christ’s goodness be renewed in you, and may all who see you admit that you are a people whom the Lord has blessed.

My brothers in the priesthood, everything I have said applies as much to you as to everyone else, but even more so; for you have received another anointing and another calling. You have been called and anointed to lead God’s holy people in love, nourish them by his word and strengthen them through the sacraments.

In all the preparations and the logistics of the next few days, may you hunger to hear the words of forgiveness, healing and salvation spoken to you also. In your eagerness to bring the good news to others, do not forget to hear and accept it yourself, otherwise there will be no substance to your message. In preparing to celebrate the Triduum don’t forget to prepare your own heart, mind and spirit. Remember at your ordination you promised to consecrate your life to God for the salvation of his people, to unite yourself everyday more closely to Christ the High Priest, who offered himself for us to the Father as a perfect sacrifice.

May you be real power-houses of good news and prophets of hope by the way you live your lives and minister to God’s holy people.

May we all learn to witness to the presence and action of Christ in our lives; may we do all things for the glory of God’s name, the spread of the gospel, the building up of the Church and for the good of our brothers and sisters whose lives we touch in any way.